German sportswear giant Puma says its association with Indian cricket star Virat Kohli led to 10% of its sales in that country in 2019, as it reported an overall 23% in revenue growth.

Puma’s tie up with Kohli’s One8 brand of formal footwear helped it cement its position as market leader in India. It also has signed endorsement associations with the boxer Mary Kom, footballer Sunil Chhetri, and actress Sarah Ali Khan over the last three years.

Announcing global earnings of €5.5 billion in 2019, Puma’s chief executive Bjorn Gulden said sales growth in India had been “accelerated” by a combination of “global strength and local execution”.

He described 2019 as the best year in Puma’s history and singled out the relationship with the cricketer as an important reason. “Year 2019 has been fantastic for us globally and in India. Our partnership with Kohli has been one of the most successful for us globally.”

The Asia-Pacific region has seen the strongest growth, the company said, with a 26% increase in sales to nearly €1.6 billion. Growth in the region was primarily driven by sales in China and India. In the latter, Puma reported sales of Rs1,413 crore (€182 million), up 17%.

Abhishek Ganguly, managing director of Puma India, told the Economic Times, “Our collaboration with Kohli’s One8 saw an exponential rise in sales in FY19, accounting for almost 10% of our total sales.”

He explained that the fastest growth areas were tier two and three markets and women’s wear. The latter made up 28% of sales in India, an increase from 24% two years ago.

Online sales grew by 27%, while offline sales were up 15%, with like-for-like store sales rising 17%. Puma operates 365 stores in India.

“There’s a lot of traction on sportswear now with women, younger consumers and sportswear becoming a lifestyle statement,” Ganguly said. “Apart from the shift in consumer behaviour, we have localised the product portfolio and do channel-specific pricing,” he added.

Puma expects more strong earnings news ahead, with the 2020 Olympics and T20 cricket championships both expected to boost sales.

Sourced from Economic Times; additonal content by WARC staff